Steve and I were not feeling up to the rematch with Dreamer. (Two days earlier I had the long damp hike to Thompson, and on Sunday he was crashing, I mean jumping BMX bikes. So we canceled. I called Adam to see if he was still available and we made a plan to head to Exit 38, the Gun Show area. (Perhaps named for the numerous steep routes there?) We were heading there to climb a slab route and get on some other routes that perhaps we could.
First stop was Endless Bliss. When Steve led this and I followed it earlier this year, I knew I wanted to come back and lead it. I was hoping to do so on Thursday night with Sammy and crew, but things have been falling apart for Thursdays and this was an opportunity to do it in the afternoon, and surprisingly with no one else on route. (I have said it, and it is close to true, but it is the best route at Exit 38.) We geared up at the base and I was off. The climb can be done in two pitches, but we opted for the single long pitch. I led off and everything was going well until around the crux. I went to clip a bolt with a Yosemite draw and the biner came off with the rope. This sketched me out pretty good and I ended up placing another draw rather than attempt to reconnect the biner. The next few clips were high drama (in my head at least.) The second half of the climb is easier. And with my more settled head, I finished up the route.
I brought Adam up and he fell and hung around the crux with his calves burning. (Just before the short fall, I could see him trying to shake his legs out.) One you get to this difficulty of slab climbing, usually it is better to move through the cruxes fast and get your rest later (or before.) I think that is what sketched me out when I had the draw mishap. After Adam reached the top, I lowered him off and proceeded to complete the two raps to the base. I looked at the next route left of Bliss and decided I really wasn't interested in leading it today.
So we walked over another route to the left. This is a two pitch route, that is rated 5.10-. The first bit is steep and blocky but appears to ease off after the first three bolts. (Generously placed in the first 15'.) Adam said if I lead it, he'll follow. So I started up. Two clips up I couldn't seem to find an adequate hold and hung a bit. I lowered off and tried again. Same issue. I hung a bit more until I figured out the moves and I was off to slightly less steep ground and a few feet to the next bolt. This lower angle (read 89°) section was the easiest of the pitch, and I should have relished that. However, I cruised up higher through steep moves before hanging again at a point where the route went right. Once again, I couldn't seem to find a hand hold. I hung a bunch of times, I tried to go straight up, but I couldn't seem to make the move. I finally tried moving a little right before up and right but my feet weren't right. I hung again, and the next attempt the feet seemed right and for some reason, I was an inch higher and was able to grab a nice hold that I didn't know existed earlier. After that I sailed through the next few bolts to the anchor.
I brought Adam up who struggled on the first three bolt section and then seemed to cruise the rest of the pitch. Unlike Endless Bliss, this pitch was a real arm burner. However, things were about to change. The second pitch is a slab, not unlike Endless Bliss. I handed the lead over to Adam who led up hanging on a few bolts, and grabbing a couple more. I followed and found the crux of the second pitch to be a touch harder than Endless Bliss. After this calf burner we rapped off.
Once at the bottom we figured we were a little spent to keep climbing the harder routes there and moved on to Squishy Bell to finish up the day.
After the hike up, Adam led the 5.6 on the left side, and then the 5.8 next to it. I followed both routes climbing in my new approach shoes. The shoes climb better than I may have hoped. Although they will take a little getting used to and trusting before I lead climb something hard in them. While I had no issues on the 5.6, the 5.8 required some smaller footholds that I was thinking the shoes would blow off of. Each time I told Adam to watch me as I thought my foot would blow off, he said before he could take up any slack, I was already above the move. So it may just be a trust issue, but they sure are comfy to climb in. Hurrah for light comfy approach shoes I can climb in. I can't wait to see how they feel with a crampon on a glacier!
Overall a nice half day out. It was fun to lead Endless Bliss. However, Elation at the End of Eternity was an equally nice climb with the added bonus of having a completely different character from one pitch to the next. Although it doesn't have the same wonderful position of Endless Bliss. It was nice to get to work out my new approach shoes as well on some easier stuff. Most of all, it made me glad Steve and I didn't attempt Dreamer, as I wasn't in top form, and Dreamer is probably going to require that of me.
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